Before You Go
Keep in mind the following tips before you depart for another country.
- Medical and dental check-ups. A check up is important to diagnose any potential problems and obtain prescription medications, if necessary, before you leave. Treating any dental problems before your depature is important to prevent sudden onset of dental pain as might occur from a deep cavity, or loose filling.
- Vaccinations (Shots). See your doctor at least 6 weeks before you leave in case you need any vaccinations. Some vaccines don't provide protection against infection until 6 weeks after receiving the shots.
- Pack your medications. Be sure to pack enough of your medication, including any non-prescription drugs, that you might need. Consider packing critical medications, such as insulin, glucagon, asthma inhalers or epinephrine, in multiple bags so you have access to the medication even if one bag is lost or stolen. Also make sure to bring extra eyeglass or eyeglass prescriptions. Wear a medical information bracelet if needed.
- First Aid Kit. Consider packing first aid supplies relevant to your travel plans and the medical needs of yourself and fellow travelers. (see below)
- Sunscreen and Sun Protection. Consider take sufficient sunscreen and other items to protect you from the sun, such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Sunscreen should offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays, and an SPF value of at least 15. Sunscreen ingredients lose their effectiveness over time so be sure to take sunscreen that has not expired.
- Insect Repellant. Depending on your destination, consider packing sufficient insect repellant to protect yourself from mosquitos and other biting insects that can cause discomfort or carry diseases. Insect repellents that contain DEET work the best. You might also pack permethrin-coated clothing and mosquito nets for use over your bed.
- Malaria. If your destination has cases of malaria, your doctor may prescribe medication that prevents getting malaria. This preventive medication for malaria may need to be taken for several weeks before you leave on your trip, and continued during your travels to be effective. Follow the specific instructions provided to you.
- Health Insurance. Find out what your health insurer will cover if you need to seek medical care in another country. Carry health insurance information with you.
Vaccinations for Travel
- Hepatitis A or hepatitis A immune globulin
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- Influenza (flu) vaccine
- Japanese encephalitis vaccine
- Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR)
- Meningococcal meningitis vaccine
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- Polio vaccine (IPV)
- Rabies vaccine
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
- Typhoid fever vaccine
- Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
- Yellow fever vaccine
Tips While Traveling
- Eating and Drinking. Eat and drink carefully if you are traveling to a country with an increased risk of traveler's diarrhea. It is safest to eat well-cooked food and avoid food from street vendors. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products and raw or uncooked seafood. Peel fruits yourself before eating them, or wash thoroughly in clean, filtered water. Drink water from commercially-sealed bottles or drink carbonated beverages. Avoid using ice since the water used for the ice may be contaminated. Use bottled water when you brush your teeth.
- Insect Protection. Protect yourself against insects, if you're going to a country with an increased risk of mosquito-borne disease, such as malaria or dengue fever.
- Swimming. Avoid or use caution when swimming in freshwater lakes and streams. This is particularly important for traveler to Africa where the water may cause infection with schistosomiasis.
- Motor Vehicle Safety. Use safety belts whenever possible. Wear a helmet if you'll be riding a motorcycle. Try to avoid driving at night or in unfamiliar areas without local help and directions.
First-Aid Kit for Travel
You might consider packing the following items in a First-aid Kit.
- Prescription medications. Pack your rrescription medications in their original containers with instructions for use
- Wound care. Pack bandages, first aid tape, gauze and a topical antibiotic ointment.
- Anti-diarrheals. Medicines for diarrhea and upset stomach include bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol), loperamide (Imodium), and antacids
- Antibiotics for traveler's diarrhea. Talk to your doctor about whether you might benefit from having a prescription antibiotic, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), that you can take in case you get traveler's diarrhea.
- Analgesics to help control pain, such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Naprosyn) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Allergy medications, including decongestants and antihistamines.
- Eye drops, for dry or irritated eyes
- Hydrocortisone 1% for rashes.
- Motion sicknes medication, such as dimenhydrinate. The prescription medicines promethazine and acetazolamide may help prevent nausea and altitude sickness.
- Equipment. Scissors, tweezers, nail clippers, pocket knife, thermometer and a mirror.
- Hand wipes and hand sanitizers.